Manhattan dealer Robert Mnuchin is the latest art market power player to enter the restaurant business, opening a French-Italian eatery with his daughter Valerie Mnuchin on New York's Shelter Island, a secluded spot nestled between the north and south forks of Long Island.
Léon 1909 is open for its first full summer after opening late last season in a former bank building. The restaurant is named for Robert’s father, who was born in 1909 and whose love for trips to Europe’s Mediterranean coast inspired the restaurant’s setting. A framed portrait of him hangs in the restaurant.
The Mnuchins' restaurant serves French and Italian cuisine using regional ingredients with a wood-burning hearth at the centre of the restaurant. It’s one of several new or refurbished restaurants to open on the island since the Covid-19 pandemic brought an influx of transplants and seasonal residents from New York City.
"We wanted to make something that would be a sort of community hub, open year-round," Valerie told North Forker last year.
Robert Mnuchin isn’t the first blue-chip dealer to venture into the restaurant business. Megadealer Larry Gagosian is a part-owner of Kappo Masa, the high-end sushi restaurant located beneath his Madison Avenue gallery. Last month, Swiss dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth announced they would open a restaurant and bar in New York's Soho neighborhood, across the street from a new Hauser & Wirth space, the dealers' third in the city. The Wirths already operate a handful of restaurants and pubs in the US and the UK.
Mnuchin is no stranger to watching his children step into high-pressure ventures: Valerie's half-brother Steven served as treasury secretary under US president Donald Trump.